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60 Best Henry David Thoreau Quotes

Norbert Juma, Lead Editor
Published on December 16, 2020 6:00 AM EST
60 Best Henry David Thoreau Quotes

Looking for the best Henry David Thoreau quotes? We’ve prepared this collection of inspirational quotes from Thoreau for you. Enjoy!

As an American essayist, poet, and practical philosopher, Henry David Thoreau became a household name that changed many people’s outlook on life and nature.

60 Best Henry David Thoreau Quotes

His belief in empirical thinking and spiritual matters penetrated the pages of his work and inspired others in ways of introspection and lending yourself to nature. He was adamant on and encouraged scientific inquiry and questioning of authority and the very fabrics of democracy.

Many of Thoreau’s words still ring true for us today. He believed that living independently and making your own informed decisions was the way to live a fulfilled life. Remember him and his philosophy through the following inspirational quotes:

Inspirational Henry David Thoreau Quotes

1. “Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth.” – Henry David Thoreau 

2. “As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.” – Henry David Thoreau 

3. “The universe is wider than our views of it.” – Henry David Thoreau 

4. “Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth.” – Henry David Thoreau 

5. “How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.” – Henry David Thoreau 

6. “The question is not what you look at, but what you see.” – Henry David Thoreau 

7. “Surely joy is the condition of life.” – Henry David Thoreau 

8. “Dreams are the touchstones of our characters.” – Henry David Thoreau 

9. “Be not simply good – be good for something.” – Henry David Thoreau 

10. “Only that traveling is good which reveals to me the value of home and enables me to enjoy it better.” – Henry David Thoreau 

11. “The language of friendship is not words but meanings.” – Henry David Thoreau 

12. “Never look back unless you are planning to go that way.” – Henry David Thoreau 

13. “It appears to be a law that you cannot have a deep sympathy with both man and nature.” – Henry David Thoreau 

14. “You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their island of opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land; there is no other life but this.” – Henry David Thoreau 

15. “What lies behind us and what lies ahead of us are tiny matters compared to what lives within us.” – Henry David Thoreau 

Henry David Thoreau Quotes about life and nature

16. “Wealth is the ability to fully experience life.” – Henry David Thoreau 

17. “Be yourself- not your idea of what you think somebody else’s idea of yourself should be.” – Henry David Thoreau 

18. “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.” – Henry David Thoreau 

19. “Goodness is the only investment that never fails.” – Henry David Thoreau 

20. “All good things are wild and free.” – Henry David Thoreau 

21. “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately…” – Henry David Thoreau 

22. “Our life is frittered away by detail…simplify, simplify.” – Henry David Thoreau 

23. “If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them” – Henry David Thoreau 

24. “We need the tonic of wildness…At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be indefinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because unfathomable. We can never have enough of nature.” – Henry David Thoreau 

25. “Not all who wander are lost.” – Henry David Thoreau 

26. “Happiness is like a butterfly; the more you chase it, the more it will elude you. But if you turn your attention to other things, it will come and sit softly on your shoulder.” – Henry David Thoreau 

27. “Things do not change; we change.” – Henry David Thoreau 

28. “Men are born to succeed, not to fail.” – Henry David Thoreau 

29. “Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influence of the earth.” – Henry David Thoreau 

30. “It is better to have your head in the clouds, and know where you are… than to breathe the clearer atmosphere below them, and think that you are in paradise” – Henry David Thoreau 

Henry David Thoreau Quotes on Dreams, Success, and Friends

31. “If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with success unexpected in common hours.” – Henry David Thoreau 

32. “The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.” – Henry David Thoreau 

33. “Most of the luxuries and many so-called comforts of life are not only not indispensable, but positive hindrances to the elevation of mankind.” – Henry David Thoreau 

34. “Any fool can make a rule, and any fool will mind it.” – Henry David Thoreau 

35. “Live your beliefs and you can turn the world around.” – Henry David Thoreau 

36. “All good things are wild and free.” – Henry David Thoreau 

37. “Nothing makes the earth seem so spacious as to have friends at a distance; they make the latitudes and longitudes” – Henry David Thoreau 

38. “There is no remedy for love but to love more.” – Henry David Thoreau 

39. “What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.” – Henry David Thoreau 

40. “Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves.” – Henry David Thoreau 

Thoughtful Henry David Thoreau quotes

41. “Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it.” – Henry David Thoreau 

42. “Be yourself, not your idea of what you think somebody else’s idea of yourself should be.” – Henry David Thoreau 

43. “It is never too late to give up our prejudices.” – Henry David Thoreau 

44. “As if you could kill time without injuring eternity” – Henry David Thoreau 

45. “Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads.” – Henry David Thoreau 

46. “If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music he hears, however measured or far away.” – Henry David Thoreau 

47. “If we will be quiet and ready enough, we shall find compensation in every disappointment.” – Henry David Thoreau 

48. “For an impenetrable shield, stand inside yourself.” – Henry David Thoreau 

49. “Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other’s eyes for an instant?” – Henry David Thoreau 

50. “When I hear music, I fear no danger. I am invulnerable. I see no foe. I am related to the earliest times, and to the latest.” – Henry David Thoreau

Other Inspirational Henry David Thoreau Quotes

51. “Do not be too moral. You may cheat yourself out of much life so. Aim above morality. Be not simply good, be good for something.”― Henry David Thoreau

52. “There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.”― Henry David Thoreau

53. “I would rather sit on a pumpkin, and have it all to myself than be crowded on a velvet cushion.”― Henry David Thoreau

54. “If you would convince a man that he does wrong, do right. But do not care to convince him. Men will believe what they see. Let them see.”― Henry David Thoreau

55. “Our truest life is when we are in dreams awake.”― Henry David Thoreau

56. “It is not enough to be industrious; so are the ants. What are you industrious about?”― Henry David Thoreau

57. “The most I can do for my friend is simply to be his friend.”― Henry David Thoreau

58. “I have an immense appetite for solitude, like an infant for sleep, and if I don’t get enough for this year, I shall cry all the next. ”― Henry David Thoreau

59. “All men want, not something to do with, but something to do, or rather something to be.”― Henry David Thoreau

60. “The path of least resistance leads to crooked rivers and crooked men.”
― Henry David Thoreau

Were You Inspired By These Henry David Thoreau  Quotes?

Henry D. Thoreau’s words have the power to alter your viewpoint of the world. His dedication to living his life as he sees fit and spreading his beliefs of Transcendentalism shaped an entire philosophy on what humans derive from nature and their own decisions.

Don’t let institutions dictate the direction of your dreams—dig deep and focus on what you are wanting to accomplish and it will come. Hopefully, these Henry David Thoreau quotes have inspired you to work towards your dreams and changed the way you see the world.

Do you have any other quotes from Thoreau to share with us? We would love to hear all about it. Tell us in the comment section below.

60 Best Henry David Thoreau Quotes
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